Background: Earlier, we reported a highly statistically significant association between T-helper 1 (Th1) and Th2 cytokine genotypes and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) risk among natives of southern Guangxi, China, a hyperendemic region for HCC. Epidermal growth factor (EGF) plays a critical role in malignant transformation of hepatocytes and tumor progression. A polymorphism in the EGF gene (61A > G) results in elevation of EGF in liver tissues and blood. Epidemiological data are sparse on the possible association between EGF genetic polymorphism and HCC risk. Methods: The EGF 61A > G polymorphism, multiple Th1 and Th2 genotypes, and environmental risk factors for HCC were determined on 117 HCC cases and 225 healthy control subjects among non-Asians of Los Angeles County, California, a low-risk population for HCC, and 250 HCC cases and 245 controls of southern Guangxi, China. Results: Following adjustment for all known or suspected HCC risk factors, non-Asians in Los Angeles who possessed at least one copy of the high activity 61*G allele of the EGF gene showed a statistically non-significant, 78% increased risk of HCC compared with those possessing the EGF A/A genotype. This EGF-HCC risk association significantly strengthened among heavy users of alcohol [odds ratio (OR) = 3.44, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.93-12.76, P = 0.065)], and among individuals carrying the high-risk Th1/Th2 genotypes for HCC (OR = 3.34, 95% CI = 1.24-9.03, P = 0.017). No association between EGF genotype and HCC risk was observed among Chinese in southern Guangxi, China. Conclusion: Genetic polymorphism in the EGF gene resulting in elevated level of EGF, may contribute to HCC risk among low-risk non-Asians in Los Angeles.
- Epidermal growth factor
- Hepatocellular carcinoma